AGO First Thursdays – September 5, 2013

Ai Weiwei, 2010

Ai Weiwei, 2010; Photo credit: Gao Yuan

AGO First Thursdays – September 5, 2013

September 5, 2013
Walker Court, Art Gallery of Ontario

September’s AGO First Thursday delves into the imagination and experience of the world’s most influential contemporary artist: Ai Weiwei, including a specially ticketed live video chat with the artist himself and a performance by the Toronto punk band Fucked Up.


One of today’s most provocative contemporary artists and the subject of a major retrospective currently on view at the AGO, Ai Weiwei will join the AGO’s director and CEO Matthew Teitelbaum for a thought-provoking discussion of his life and work. Ai, who is under constant surveillance at his home in Beijing, has been unable to leave China since the government confiscated his passport in 2011. Please note that due to capacity limitations, special tickets must be purchased to gain admission to the live video chat. However, there will be a free live stream of the chat in Walker Court for partygoers without special tickets to the chat.

Following the live video chat, the Polaris Prize–winning band Fucked Up will take the stage in Walker Court, with live visuals by Tasman Richardson. Known for their legendary gigs, Fucked Up’s take on the hardcore genre has constantly upended assumptions about punk. Pitchfork called their last album, 2011’s David Comes to Life, “a convincing demonstration of what can happen when a band works without limitations,” and SPIN called it “one of the best hard rock records of the past ten years.”

Toronto artist Sean Martindale will contribute his unique vision to the night with two projects: his 8’ cardboard sculpture of Ai Weiwei, Love the Future / Free Ai Weiwei, and a special performance created specially for the night, entitled Solidarity Buzz: Shaving for Free Expression, in which Martindale will shave the heads of some very brave partygoers.

Jonathan Campbell, author of the book Red Rock: The Long, Strange March of Chinese Rock & Roll will play a special DJ set of Chinese rock music in tribute to Ai’s latest project: a punk album with an accompanying music video.

In the one-night-only exhibition OUT OF THE VAULTS: Art and Activism!, view a selection of protest art from the AGO collection, including women’s rights promotion, anti-war imagery, and in-your-face social commentary in the Marvin Gelber Print & Drawing Study Centre.

In this month's pop-up talks, curators, artists and local personalities share their personal reactions to Ai Weiwei: According to What?. Get inspired by Toronto city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, Toronto City Councillor; Elizabeth Parke, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto; and Charlie Foran, president of PEN Canada.

Put that inspiration to good use and make art! Customize your own on a street-poster designed by local artist Shannon Gerard.

With more great music and a few more surprises, the September 5 AGO First Thursday is a not-to-be-missed spectacle about one of the world’s most exciting artists.

Watch a recording of the live video chat with Ai Weiwei from this event

About Fucked Up

Fucked Up

Fucked Up have the most perfect name for any band in rock history. In two words it bluntly states the truth that lies at the heart of the white noise maelstrom - things are different from what you expect.

Right from the start this Toronto band has been pushing musical and conceptual boundaries. Forming ostensibly as a punk band, they swiftly took on hardcore and twisted it into their own version, with a psychedelic edge, unexpected instrumentation like flute and keyboards, and songs stretched to perverse lengths.

They initially released a series of impossible to find 7” singles, all with related artwork that sometimes landed them in trouble, and sometimes looked like they came from the late 60s, when minds were melting with possibilities. There were also albums that continued this theme, each one more bold and adventurous.

Meanwhile, the band’s gigs took on legendary status. Frontman Damian Abraham's nude stage dives and blood-strewn face were becoming a lunatic motif for a take on the hardcore genre that constantly upended assumptions: lyrics about plants and rebirth, moneys to charities for battered women. All the time, there was a sense of a narrative, and even in their loudest moments there was a deep intelligence to their music.

The narrative itself has come to full fruition on their most recent album, the 78-minute David Comes To Life rock opera, an album set to a play, and on their Polaris Prize-winning album The Chemistry of Common Life.

About Sean Martindale

Sean Martindale, 01 Love the Future / Free Ai Weiwei, 2011

Sean Martindale is an interdisciplinary artist and designer currently based in Toronto, Canada. His interventions activate public and semi-public spaces to encourage engagement, often focused on ecological and social issues. His playful works question and suggest alternate possibilities for existing spaces, infrastructures and materials found in the urban environment. Frequently, Martindale uses salvaged goods and live plants in unexpected ways that prompt conversations and interaction.

Martindale has taken part in multiple solo and group exhibitions, and his projects have been shown in cities such as Montreal, Madrid, New York, Shanghai, Victoria, Vancouver, Venice, Charlottetown, Minneapolis, Paris, Angers, Brussels, Berlin and Doha. 2012 marked the opening of NOW, Martindale’s exhibition with Pascal Paquette at the Art Gallery of Ontario for the Gallery’s Toronto Now contemporary project series. More recently, his work has been seen at The Royal Ontario Museum for Hot Docs, at Toronto’s City Hall, and in Montreal for Art Souterrain / Nuit Blanche 2013.

The Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts (TFVA) awarded Martindale their prestigious Artist Prize for 2012. He holds an MFA from the Interdisciplinary Master’s of Art, Media and Design program at OCAD University in Toronto, and a Bachelor of Design from Emily Carr University in Vancouver.

About Jonathan Campbell

Photo of Jonathan Campbell

Jonathan Campbell lived on just about all sides of Beijing’s local-music-scene stage between 2000 and 2010. He’s played in many bands, taken dozens of international artists on tours to somewhere upwards of 30 Chinese cities, helped bring Chinese bands to the West, attended international music conferences and written for a range of media outlets. Since the release of his first book, Red Rock: The Long, Strange March of Chinese Rock & Roll, he’s been preaching the yaogun (Chinese rock) gospel at literary festivals, schools and venues around the world. He currently lives in Toronto.


About Shannon Gerard

Work by Shannon Gerard

Shannon Gerard hails from Ontario, where she writes and draws the auto-bio comic series HUNG. She also makes artist's books about hope, faith and human frailty and spends at least 50 per cent of her waking life crocheting plush sculptures. Recently though, she has been untangling herself long enough to start hand-printing books on a letterpress. Shannon teaches courses in print media and nano-publishing at OCAD University in Toronto.

About Tasman Richardson

Tasman Richardson, still taken from Temple, 2012 live a/v performance

Tasman Richardson's work focuses on entropy, tele-presence, appropriation, synesthesia and JAWA editing (a style he originated), in which musical composition and narratives are created entirely from video cutups. His most recent exhibitions include the a/v performance Firing Squad Mapping Festival (Geneva), as well as his critically acclaimed solo installation Necropolis at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. He recently premiered his collaborative performance Hydra at Elektra 14 with Parisian artist Nohista in which vintage televisions and atari 2600s are electrically manipulated as live musical instruments. He is located in Toronto, Canada, and represented by Vtape, V-Atak, Neubacher Shore Contemporary, and

About Charlie Foran

Photo of Charlie Foran

Charlie Foran was born and raised in Toronto. He holds degrees from the University of Toronto and the University College, Dublin, and has taught in China, Hong Kong, and Canada. He has published 10 books, including four novels, and writes regularly for magazines and newspapers. He is a contributing reviewer for the Globe and Mail and has won awards for his fiction, non-fiction, and journalism. You can learn more about his books on this website and read recent essays, features and reviews. Charlie has also made radio documentaries for the CBC program Ideas and co-wrote the TV documentary Mordecai Richler: The Last of the Wild Jews. A senior fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto, he divides his time between Toronto and Peterborough. Charlie is now in his second year as president of PEN Canada, the organization of writers and readers committed worldwide to defending freedom of speech.

About Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam

Photo of Kristyn Wong-Tam

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has an extensive career investing in the City of Toronto through both the public and private sectors. Councillor Wong-Tam has a distinguished track record of human rights advocacy and was a co-founder of Asian Canadians For Equal Marriage, and the past president of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter that successfully lobbied the federal government for the head tax apology and redress. Prior to being elected to City Council in 2010, Councillor Wong-Tam was an accomplished real estate professional and supporter of the arts. She has curated art installations for Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche and is the principal of a Toronto-based contemporary fine art gallery. As a founding member of the Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Association, her business advocacy and entrepreneurship focusing on urban economic development, earned her a seat on the Mayor David Miller’s Economic Competitiveness Advisory Committee which produced the Agenda for Prosperity in 2008.

About Elizabeth Parke

Elizabeth Parke is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto. She examines the relationships between contemporary Chinese art, urban planning, and visual culture using a trans-disciplinary approach applying methodologies from art history, cinema studies, urban geography, and visual anthropology. Her dissertation “Infrastructures of Critique: art and visual culture in contemporary Beijing (1978-2012)”, establishes the influence of urban planning on Chinese art by drawing parallels between artistic practices and the capital’s infrastructure.

Trained at Carleton and Middlebury colleges, Beijing Normal, and Tsing Hua universities, she has worked at galleries and museums including: Platform China (站台中国), the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. A 2010 research fellow at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, she has received numerous scholarships supporting her research. Her writing has appeared in Education about Asia, The Beijinger, Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, and Art Practical; while her curatorial practice comprises, most recently, workforce: representing labor in Chinese propaganda posters at the University of Toronto Art Centre.

Watch the Livestream
Ai Weiwei live video chat at AGO First Thursdays


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